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Losing big

Residents bask in success of Fort Ritchie weight-loss competition

Residents bask in success of Fort Ritchie weight-loss competition

July 27, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

CASCADE - They didn't have to go to a California boot camp-style ranch and get berated by trainers.

And they didn't have to disclose their weight to millions of TV viewers by standing on a huge set of scales.

But they did feel rewarded and healthier when it was all done.

Kathy Spinks, Valerie Kitts and Billy Coyle were among five people who completed the Fort Ritchie Community Center's version of "The Biggest Loser" weight-loss contest.

Spinks, 45, of Cascade, won the contest by weighing in at the end of the program and losing the greatest percentage of body weight. Spinks lost 30 pounds and 18.5 percent of her body weight.

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The community center, which opened Oct. 1, 2008, held the contest from March 16 to June 13, said Angela Kershner, program director. Twenty-one people started the program. Each participant paid $20, with the entry fees going to the winner. All but one person paid so Spinks earned $400.

Just like with the TV show, the center will help make a donation related to the weight loss to a local charity. Kershner said about 130 pounds of food will be donated to Hope Alive Inc., a nondenominational nonprofit in Sabillasville, Md., that benefits homeless women and children. The weight of the food donation equals how much weight was lost by participants who completed the contest.

Local residents can contribute food to the donation at the center through July 31. The center will make up the difference so Hope Alive receives 130 pounds of food, Kershner said.

Contestants in the local program had the chance to participate in free motivational sessions and a Fit 'n Fun class that cost $45, Kershner said. Some people went to the Fit 'n Fun class, in which corrective exercise specialist Diane Shifflett taught them exercises to work on balance, flexibility, strength, stamina and confidence.

"We provided the tools to help them," Kershner said. That included posting their weekly progress so they could compare and stay motivated, she said.

While only five people showed up for the final weigh-in, Kershner said, "We helped change five people's lives." She hopes that encourages more people to sign up for the yearly program.

Valerie Kitts, 45, of Sabillasville, joined the contest because she wanted to look better, get healthier, and feel better about herself.

Kitts thought it would be easier to lose weight with a group, though she hadn't tried it on her own. "I did a lot of thinking about trying (to lose weight)," she said.

Kitts lost 29 pounds or 15 percent of her body weight.

Kitts, Spinks, and Coyle have lost more weight since completing the contest.

Kitts is even continuing with a food diary she started with the program. She writes down what and how much she eats or drinks.

"Boy, it really opens your eyes," Kitts said. She discovered her serving sizes were too large and started to focus on portion control.

Now she eats four to five smaller meals a day rather than three big ones.

Kitts said she feels much better and has a lot more energy.

"It's nice to buy a new, smaller bathing suit for the beach," said Kitts, who added she even enjoyed shopping for the new suit.

Some of the clothes she bought since the contest ended have already gotten too big as she has continued to lose weight, Kitts said.

"It's awesome, but annoying because of the cost of clothes," Kitts said.

Spinks, too, notices a difference.

"I have a lot more energy with my kids" and climbing stairs is easier, she said.

Spinks often worked out on her own.

Spinks, a Realtor, walked on the tread mill at the center as often as her work schedule allowed, took aerobics classes, did leg lifts, lifted light free weights, and did 125 sit-ups in the morning and another 125 in the evening, six days a week.

Coyle, 26, of Cascade, lost 48 pounds or 16.2 percent of his body weight.

Coyle joined the contest to get healthier, but also to show his then pregnant wife, Rachel, that it would be possible for her to lose the baby weight. After giving birth to Ryder four weeks ago, Rachel Coyle has already lost the baby weight, her husband said.

For exercise, Coyle ran 2 miles a day, three days a week. He also played volleyball two days a week at the center and did a little weightlifting.

Not only did he lose weight, but he's sleeping better and his blood pressure returned to normal levels so he doesn't have to start taking medication, Coyle said.

Coyle, Spinks and Kitts said they are continuing to exercise.

Kitts said it was easy to make excuses when it was just herself, but as part of a group it was a matter of pride to make progress.

"I had to be accountable for what I said I'd do," she said.

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